Dogged by stardom
by Melissa Ryan
Dogstar is better known as the Band Keanu Reeves Is In. Guitarist Bret Domrose and drummer Rob Mailhouse have joined Reeves - in Sydney filming sci-fi movie Matrix - on a small tour of clubs around Australia, after last touring in 1996 as support for Bon Jovi.
It's about 2pm on Sunday. Reeves and Mailhouse sound jovial over the phone. They got up a few hours ago and are relaxing and joking around - Dogstar is going to become a Jethro Tull cover band says Mailhouse - between interviews and contemplating rehearsal.
Their music, says Mailhouse, is "rock and roll straight up", and they don't pretend it is anything more or less. Their influences include Cheap Trick, the Replacements, Wire Train, Afghan Wig, and other bands "no one's ever heard of," he says.
The band is about "fun and friends foremost, and the music comes with that. If we sell records, great, that's even better. We would not scoff at any success."
Indeed, critics have deemed much of Dogstar's success to be due to self-taught bass player Keanu Reeves's pulling power as a movie star.
"We don't have anything to say about that. Hopefully people can get over it," says Mailhouse. "I mean, compared to bands like Oasis or something we're not successful."
Compared with their debut recording Our Little Visionary, Mailhouse says new material now being written is more lively and heading in a new direction. "Some of it's happy, some of it's sad, some of it's angry, some of it's goofy."
Reeves is keen to get back on to the touring bandwagon. "We haven't played for about five months, and we're looking forward to it.
"We won't see each other for three weeks or for a month, then we'll do some gigs together," says Reeves.
Mailhouse says Dogstar is different: "We're a bit more passionate performing. There are a lot of bands who have great music and go out and stand there. We want to wake them (audiences) up to what we're feeling."
* Dogstar play the Central Club in Richmond tomorrow. Tickets from Ticketmaster.